Tabloids eatin' it up! | Photo: @dailymail

Report from Australia: “The wheels are falling off the world and we’re crawling over the top of each other to chase two-foot of windswell!”

"I got angrier the longer I stayed out. Everyone’s face looked punchable. The rain and wind kicked up a notch. Conditions deteriorated. More people kept coming out off the rocks."

Recently, in some imagined bout of creeping fever, I liberated an old favourite from the surfads bookshelf.

On the Beach, by Nevil Shute. Published 1959.

Post-apocalyptic pulp before it was cool.

Set in ‘50s Australia after a global nuclear war has wiped the bulk of the human race. A cloud of radioactivity drifts slowly south, clearing out what’s left.

Melbourne is one of the last cities in the world breathing.

But not for long.

The novel follows various characters as they go stoically about their business, knowing death is drawing in on them.

Their ends are met in a very formal, downturned, British manner.

Politely. Discreetly. Still doing their jobs and with minimum fuss. Social order maintained until the very last.

A morbid choice, maybe.

But why not now, if ever?

It certainly gives stark contrast to our current bin fire. In 2020, the first whiff of a breakdown in societal mechanics has Australians clawing at each other while simultaneously disregarding the government’s pleas for social distancing.

Grocery workers stabbed for toilet paper.

Medical supplies stolen from hospital loading docks.

Fist fights in waiting lines.

Record crowds still meeting at our beaches.

And the worst hasn’t even hit here, yet.

It’s different in Europe, where the dead are piling up. Different in America, too, where the nightmare that is neo-capitalism unravels one uninsured patient at a time. Different in Costa Rica, where cops fire warning shots and arrest pro surfers. Different in South Africa, where Jeffrey’s locals hold firm and do their part for the greater good, even in the face of pumping waves.

Here in Oz, outside of Sydney’s eastern suburbs where beach closures have forced local surfers’ hands, an uneasy detente rests.

Our virus numbers are still sorta kinda low.

Beaches are open, even though attendance is discouraged. The volunteer clubbies have finished their season early, but the professionals are still on duty.

The flags are up, for now.

To surf or not to surf?

I’ve been following the guidelines, even though ‘rona cases in my local area are even smaller still. Surfing, yes, but alone, away from most others.

Working from home, and lucky enough to still have a job. Keeping clean and laying low.

But on the weekend I cracked.

I needed a wave, and the only place breaking was my usual local. Inner city, always crowded. A stormy day. Wrong wind. The beach doing its best impersonation of Point Break’s final scene.

Driving rain, no one about on the usually bustling promenade.

Despite the onshore there was a wave. A small ENE swell pulsing runner lefts and short ramps on the rights.

I paddled out.

The lineup was teeming. Thirty-five surfers blanketed across the one bank. More than there would be for these conditions usually, even.

There were party wave gals on mini-mals. Hurley/JS/gym bro warriors. Surf dads with groms in tow. Only a handful of regulars.

Who were these cunts?

Were people deliberately defying government recommendations, just ‘cause they can?

“They can’t tell me I’m not surfing. The ocean doesn’t belong to anyone. YOLO!”

I cursed them just for being in the water.

Why were they out here?

Didn’t they know the world was ending?

Didn’t they know our chief medical officer was enforcing a one-and-a-half-metre distancing rule?

But then I also asked: why was I out here? YOLO too?

Whatever, I grumbled in the realisation I was just as shit as them.

I don’t give a fuck.

I got angrier the longer I stayed out. Everyone’s face looked punchable. The rain and wind kicked up a notch. Conditions deteriorated. More people kept coming out off the rocks.

I paddled in. Which is rare for me. Rare for anyone, probably.

I was annoyed. Confused.

The wheels are falling off the world and here we are in Australia crawling over the top of each other to chase two-foot of windswell.

We’re the same sorta people who will cry out when we’ve run out of ventilators or are stuck overseas and the government won’t rescue us.

But I get it, this is a big change.

The sort of systemic disruption that’s usually only forced by war, or death.

The way we operated in 2019 is not the way we will operate now.

Adjustment will take time.

And while our YOLO culture runs hard, Australia is suffering from a lack of leadership. We have a conservative PM too scared to make a hard shut down if it’s gonna hurt the budget’s bottom line.

Plus there’s state v federal confusion in messaging.

Picture Cuomo v Trump.

We sit in this open but closed, business as sorta usual limbo, where nobody really knows how to act.

To surf or not to surf?

Nick Carroll asked Dr Karl, our very own Neil de Grasse Tyson, if surfing can transmit the virus. Even the smartest man in Australia didn’t know. There’s just too much we don’t know.

What’s the moral imperative here?

Will we be able to keep surfing?

Should we?

Will you flout the laws when your beach is closed?

How long can you hold out for?

Are we all fucked until they find a vaccine?

Perturbed, hunky surfer seeking answers.

Post script: The Prime Minister has just announced a ban on public gatherings of more than two people. Skate parks, playgrounds etc are being closed. But does that include the beach? A Monday morning surf check would suggest not. That same bank, even smaller again, had another thirty packed onto it. Surely it won’t be long now ‘til we get the ban hammer too. Cough cough.

Surfing’s two great polemicists face-off in epic Coronavirus blood feud: “I can’t wrap my head around anyone that would spend their entire life riding beginner boards!”

And, "You're a total kook who ran home to the shoulder at Mavericks!"

It’s been too long between the bloodying of computer and telephone keys, as warlords face off online. 

A respite today, and a timely respite given the cholera, or whatever it is, epidemic.

Earlier, the noted big-wave surfer from Santa Cruz, Ken Collins, fifty-two, also known, variously, as Skindog and Skin Dizzle, a man who once received a citation for the “bitch slap” of two bodyboarders, was set upon by the original retro-fabulist, and kung fu expert, Joel Tudor. 

Joel, who is forty-four, is no stranger to online blood feuds. 

You’ll remember, Bullfight: Joel Tudor vs Shawn Stussy? Blood Feud: Joel Tudor versus the World? Blood Feud: Joel Tudor versus Kelly Slater? Tudor: “Crying is for baby girls!

Here’s another, “I make fun of shit because I can” and another, again, with Kelly Slater.

Skinny ain’t afraid to light up, either.

Here, he, also, lays down a gauntlet to Kelly Slater. 

Good times. 

To comprehend today’s blood feud, a little background.

Skindog is of the school of thought that if the state closes the beaches, one must respect the law.

Joel is of the opposite frame of mind, a libertine. If you can squeeze a little solo time in, sneak under the wire.

We begin, 

Joel has a swing at stay-at-home, Skinny, noting in comments,

“Kenny Collins this is you ….would of tagged ya …but you blocked me you huge wuss hahahahah.”

Oh, reader, you can almost hear the pounding of keys up there behind a locked and barred door in Santa Cruz.

Joel makes a lovely cameo in Skinny’s comments,

You at pipeline was pretty funny ….total kook who ran home to the shoulder at Mavericks! Bwhahaha love you and thanks for unblocking me hahha.

Skinny jabs,

Who you kidding? I don’t partake in the great migration each winter with you and your massive heard of semi-pro sheep. I went to Mexico all through the 90’s to present. I think it paid off not to follow on that path.

It goes on and on for days, the two various camps firing virtual salvos over virtual bows.

I’m in the Joel camp, if you’re wondering.

Question: What is the actual toll of forcing human beings to be mortally terrified of one another?

The horror. The horror.

I have not been to the grocery store in a couple of days which means I have not been to the grocery store in an eternity as experienced through our current Coronavirus Apocalypse. Last time, a couple of days ago, there was a limited amount of toilet paper and the checkers were wearing medical gloves.

Today, I had to line up with red tape indicating where I could stand and, once ushered in, there was also red tape indicating where I could stand. Confused grandparents who had lived through World War II wore ironic, disbelieving smiles.

Completely healthy millennials wore medical gloves plus masks and ran away from me like I was the physical embodiment of terror.

And what the honest hell.

What the honest to goodness hell.

I understand that we’re supposed to socially isolate etc. and do our part and am doing my part but has anyone stopped to ponder the toll this wildness will take on society?

Humans fleeing each other terrified?

Especially younger, healthy humans?

I went to the refrigerated zone to get a Mexican Coke. A man no older than Ashton Goggans, maybe 33-ish, and just as heavy but twice as fit stood there, in full medical gloves plus masks and fled, turned tail and sprinted toward the produce, when I came near-ish.

I spent the rest of my shopping minutes angling toward younger men, giggling internally as they peeled away in panic.

Then my wheels began to turn.

The future of surfing.

The glorious future.

I’m paddling out exactly where I want tomorrow and surfing exactly where I want.

But what happens to the rest of humanity? Mental states etc.?

More as the story develops.

The two surfers were apprehended by security and police, and were both given their options: R5,000 fine (three hundred US) or six months in jail.

Two more surfers of “extraordinary self-confidence” run gauntlet at J-Bay; captured, threatened with six months jail: “Round them up and bring them to the locals. Lots of spare energy to sort them out!”

Locals, again, red with indignation etc.

The online commentary in yesterday’s article on the Doctor who surfed at Supers and wanted to apologize was brutal, as only it can get on BG.

(Read here.)

Luckily, not too much was aimed at me, and it was mainly directed at the interloper, who really wanted to express his regret and move on.

What I did take to heart though, was that there wasn’t enough context in the article, and commentator Jordy’s Pout helped out a bit there.

Mr Pout described the South African situation perfectly, and I quote (but edited to suit me),

The article didn’t give proper context to the extent of the lockdown. It has nothing to do with beaches being closed, or surfing being banned. We literally have to stay in our homes, except to buy food or medical supplies (or if you work in related supply chains). All non-essential businesses are closed. There’s no allowance for exercise or recreation outside of your own home. The president specified that any visitors still in the country when lockdown started would have to stay in their hotels for the 21 days. Clear as daylight.

With that as context, when two local surfers paddled out at Supers on Sunday afternoon, the other locals obeying the rules and staying at home were pissed off, again, and the two surfers were called many names on social platforms, none of them flattering.

They surfed for a while, and a few people grabbed a few clips from the phones from balconies overlooking the waves.

It is heartbreaking for them all, watching from their homes, but the general consensus, much like yesterday’s theme was, “What makes these two so fucking special?”

These two laaities are locals, and they will be dealt with by the older locals.

As one of the more notorious older locals said on Facebook, “Round them up and bring them to the locals. Lots of spare energy to sort them out. Name and shame.”

Another local mentioned, “It would be nice to know who these guys were. Name and shame them cos you are right, lockdown means fucking lockdown for everyone… No exceptions.”

There are enough people who are taking this all as seriously as it should be, and are fully aware of what is coming.

The two surfers were apprehended by security and police, and were both given their options: R5,000 fine (three hundred US) or six months in jail.

They both took the fines.

They were unceremoniously marched into the back of a police wagon, and driven down to the local station.

Next offence is six months in a cell.

Was it worth it?

Well, the waves were ok, average. It wasn’t anything like the final at last year’s Corona J-Bay (between two Brazilian goofy-footers, both have world titles, read about it here) but is sure as fuck wasn’t a R5,000 per person session.

In the big picture, it’s not an outrageous amount of money, but in a world that is broken and there is no more income forthcoming, it’s a huge and stupid waste.

It’s not the point though.

The point is that there are hundreds of surfers in the area, and in the country, there are also hundreds of fishermen, and divers, and open water swimmers, and kayakers.

We all want to surf, to be in the ocean.

My boy is eleven years old and all he wants to do is surf.

All the groms want to surf. It’s what we do.

We surf.

But we can’t, because it’s the law during lockdown.

It’s the fucking law.

So don’t be a poes.

Be lekker, ekse.

Chill. Relax.

Have a massive dop, or have a skyf or a gwaai or whatever it is that you need to do to get over this kak time in our lives when we can’t go surfing.

Just don’t be a poes, seriously.

We will all be surfing again, if we all work through this together.

The alternative is too heavy to think about.

Laaities = young surfers, a bit older than groms, but younger than the established crew. Haven’t done their hard work yet.
Poes = meaning female genitalia, it is typically considered a foul word as it is often used to refer to or describe someone with utter disgust.
Lekker = cool, good.
Ekse = I say
Dop = alcoholic beverage
Skyf = marijuana rolled up neatly inside some rizla.
Gwaai = tobacco cigarette
Kak = faeces

Re-enactment on real surfboards not SUPs.
Re-enactment on real surfboards not SUPs.

Breaking: Two teenage boys practicing appropriate “social distancing” viciously attacked by malicious Great White shark in Santa Cruz!

No quarter.

We’re all doing our best here to at least look like we’re being respectful, staying away from others, vigorously washing our hands and/or squirting hand sanitizer in front of others so they can see how seriously we’re all taking this Coronavirus pandemic. This absolute horror above/beyond anything ever seen in human history. Sneezing into our elbows. Using those same elbows to “fist bump.”

Two teenaged boys in Santa Cruz went the extra social distancing mile yesterday, for example, hanging scarlet S U P’s around their necks. StandUp Paddleboard. A device guaranteed to keep people well over six feet away and likely cause denouncement from friends and family members. More “social killer” than “social distancer” as these boys will likely never find a partner who forgives but there they were, doing their part, standup paddleboarding out beyond the kelp beds ringing Santa Cruz’s Pleasure Point but did nature reward their self sacrifice?

Their taking one for the team?

Let’s turn to Santa Cruz’s local news affiliate for answers.

Two teenagers who said a shark thrashed their Stand Up Paddle board in waters of Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz on Friday walked away unscathed.

The close encounter happened while they were in the water in the evening when one teen said his SUP board was suddenly and aggressively pushed by a shark.

They were paddle boarding past the kelp beds when he felt a jolt and was knocked off his board.

While there was thrashing in the water, he scrambled back atop his board only to see a shark taking a bite of the back of the board.

The teen then punched the shark causing it to let go of the board. The friends got out of the water quickly with the board, which now has visible bite marks in the SUP board.

Uncalled for and horrible, proving once and for all that sharks do what they do on purpose.

That they love to be stone-cold bastards

That they hate men and/or boys.

No surfing in Santa Cruz for both moral high horse reasons but mostly related to deadly, malicious Great White sharks.

More unforgiving than your glaring neighbor when you step out for a waltz in the sun during this Coronavirus Apocalypse.

More as the story develops.